Remember this old joke?
The pessimist thinks it's half empty.
The Cubs fan looks at the glass and wonders when it's going to tip over and spill.
After last night's 6-1 Cub loss to the Pirates, a game in which they looked totally flat, beatable and hardly a playoff contender at all, I'm here to tell you that the glass IS half full, because with the Cardinals losing in Arizona 4-2 and the Brewers getting blown out 11-4 by the Reds, the standings remain as they were Thursday afternoon. The Cubs and Brewers are tied for first place, the Cardinals a game behind, with one more day cut off the calendar.
Stop and take a deep breath and think for a moment. It didn't feel very good last night, did it? The Cubs were never in last night's game; Rich Hill gave up four runs in the first three innings, and though he kept it close till Jack Wilson's HR made it 6-0 in the sixth, the Cubs kept squandering scoring chances. The worst offense was yet another baserunning blunder, this time from Derrek Lee, who should have known better than to stray off second base with two out after Aramis Ramirez' comebacker took a wacky bounce into short right field. The score was only 3-0 at the time, and had Lee stayed where he belonged, the Cubs would have had two runners on and Mark DeRosa up.
It might not have mattered; Tom Gorzelanny had the Cubs off-balance all night, and he is now 2-1 with a 0.82 ERA in three career starts vs. the Cubs (as Len & Bob pointed out on the telecast, that ERA went up last night with Gorzelanny allowing one earned run in 7 IP; it was 0.60 before the game). Gorzelanny is 14-7 for a mediocre team -- that's not too far off the league lead in wins. Nothing worked vs. Gorzelanny -- Lee and Ramirez both hit rockets up the middle that were speared by Gorzelanny for outs.
At least we can take solace that the Cubs lost a game to a pretty good pitcher. Think about being a Brewers fan -- they got blown out and pretty well handcuffed by Bronson Arroyo, who came into the game with a 4.43 ERA. Or the Cardinals, who had scored 41 runs in their four-game series vs. the Pirates, getting shut down by Brandon Webb, who actually is a good pitcher (Webb has a shot, at least, at winning his second consecutive Cy Young Award -- yes, I know he's got good competition in Jake Peavy, among others).
I wound up watching a bit of the Cardinals/Diamondbacks game after the Cub game was over, and for a while couldn't place the voice that was doing color commentary. I knew it sounded familiar, and knew it wasn't Mark Grace -- then I realized it was Joe Garagiola, who had a nearly 35-year career as a broadcaster, mostly with NBC Sports. It was refreshing to hear him. None of the gladhanding that goes along with listening to Mark Grace; Garagiola talked strategy, and what to expect on the next pitch, and meshed quite well with D'backs play-by-play man Daron Sutton. Not bad for a guy who turned 81 last February.
That's all I really have to say about last night. Well, except this. Did you see Lou last night? He looks like he's growing a beard. If he lets that go for a while, he'll look just like Santa Claus. What's important is that another day is off the calendar and the Cubs are still tied for first place. Tonight is the most important start Carlos Zambrano has ever made in a regular-season game. It's time for him to step up and be worth that $91 million that was just handed to him.
Keep the faith.